Train cars for the Port Elgin and North Shore Railroad sit in front of The Station store at the Port Elgin beach. (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Port Elgin Waterfront Mini Train Still Idle

The mayor of Saugeen Shores is denying accusations of hardball negotiations in the stalemate over the miniature steam train at the Port Elgin waterfront.

Mike Smith says council remains supportive of keeping the iconic train operating at the beach, after numerous residents spoke during Monday’s council session, accusing municipal officials of offering an unreasonable lease as a way to force owner Andy Hess to remove the train.

Smith says Hess communicated via e-mail recently and says the e-mail reiterated the decision to put the business, which includes the train, tracks and store, up for sale and that he would not sign the lease.

Resident John Mann says he received a copy of communications, which have not been released publicly, between Hess and municipal officials, which he alleges Chief Administrative Officer David Smith suggested the municipality would be interested in purchasing The Station store from Hess, but not the train or tracks.

“After telling everybody ‘hey, we’re adamant, want the train’, the letter says it all, the letter from the CAO of our town, David Smith, to [Hess] is ‘take your train, we don’t want it,'” says Mann.

Mayor Smith says it’s not true and they remain willing to work with Hess on a lease that works for both sides.

“Some of the statements made here about us not wanting the train there are completely false, we want this thing to work for everybody,” says Smith. “Whatever the issues the owner has, let’s have them out in the open and we’ll deal with them.”

Smith adds he urges Hess to contact the municipality to sit down and work out an agreement in time to have the train running this summer.